Jamie Carragher thinks that Newcastle United’s tactics against Manchester City were embarrassing.

Indeed, he claims that when any club comes up against the Premier League top six, the tactics are almost always embarrassing.

So is he right?

Well last night at St James Park was an uncomfortable watch but it was extreme circumstances.

There were two unique factors for me.

Firstly, I think we have to differentiate between Manchester City and the other five members of the top six. It is a nonsense really for Jamie Carragher to be putting it that way, as this season there is clearly just a top one, and then the rest.

Man City have won 19 of their 20 games and have 58 points from a possible 60. Newcastle/Rafa would not have used such extreme tactics against any other team.

Their closest challengers Manchester United hosted Man City earlier this month and that was embarrassing. Yes Newcastle did have only 22% possession but Jose Mourinho, despite spending as much as Man City on transfer fees and wages, parked the bus and had only 35% possession, at home in a derby as well!!!

In games this season already, Newcastle went to Old Trafford and scored the first goal, kept attacking and should have gone at least two up, before mistakes let them down.

Same at Stamford Bridge, attacked early on and took the lead, before poor defending in the absence of Jamaal Lascelles, saw the Magpies capitulate.

Secondly, and I think even more importantly, if it hadn’t been for the way the fixtures fell combined with where Newcastle find themselves in a relegation battle, I don’t think Rafa Benitez would have gone to such extreme lengths, particularly in the first half hour when his team didn’t really even try and get out of their half.

Bottom line is that as I write this on Thursday morning Newcastle are two days away from playing Brighton, then another two days to Stoke, two games that are massive if Rafa Benitez is to keep the club up.

Rafa claims that his team selection last night wasn’t about resting key players/rotation but does anybody honestly believe that if this Man City game was a total one-off with Newcastle needing a point to stay up, he would have left Gayle, Ritchie, Clark, Atsu and Merino, all on the bench?

The team he felt he had to play last night was totally incapable of keeping possession when pressured, which was pretty much every time anybody had the ball!

You saw the difference when the subs came on, with Gayle, Atsu and Merino showing far more composure and ability to retain possession and carry the ball.

Before they came on, even when Newcastle were trying to get back level with the players they had on the pitch, it was an almost impossible task, as they failed to keep possession for more than a couple of passes.

One of the best and most expensively built teams in the world up against Championship level players such as Aarons, Diame and others, it doesn’t take a genius to work it out.

The thing of course that really riles Jamie Carragher and his TV associates is that Rafa Benitez almost pulled off an astonishing result, especially considering he’d left half his first team out.

If Manchester City had put four or five past Newcastle then I don’t think we’d be having this debate as the pundits would happily have purred about Guardiola’s team and replayed the goals time after time, rather than criticising Rafa for spoiling the entertainment and making their jobs harder.

If Newcastle had scored the equaliser that they threatened to get in those closing stages, as the crowd roared them on once they got the smallest of encouragements, Jamie Carragher and his mates would have been furious.

I guarantee you that any praise for a Newcastle point would have been so begrudging and they would be shouting ‘not fair’ because Rafa’s team hadn’t lay down and allowed Man City to play pretty patterns through them.

Jamie Carragher:

“Not just Newcastle, but the Premier League in general, when they come up against the top six, certainly at home, it has becoming embarrassing.

“The Premier League now is becoming a bit of a joke league, with the top teams being so far ahead of the ones at the bottom.

“For those clubs, it’s almost like they are accepting they are going to lose the game, as long as it is only one or two-nil.

“The Premier League has been built on every team having a go, that is why everyone around the world wants to watch it.

“Will they keep watching if they keep seeing football like that?’”

“I have no problem with Newcastle sitting deep…

“I played under Rafa Benitez, and it’s not just Newcastle, I have seen it virtually every week.

“There has got to be some sort of aggression, some sort of plan for winning the ball back, and then going forward.

“It i seeing it at home (that is particularly bad), when every team came to Anfield (back in the day) they played like that, but at home…it’s a sad state of affairs for the Premier League.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Manchester City 1


Man City: Sterling 31

Possession was Man City 78% Newcastle 22%

Total shots were  Man City 21 Newcastle 6

Shots on target were Man City 6 Newcastle 2

Corners were  Man City 8 Newcastle 3

Referee: Andre Marriner

Newcastle United:

Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Mbemba (Merino 77), Dummett, Manquillo, Diame, Shelvey, Murphy, Aarons (Atsu 71), Joselu (Gayle 62)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Clark, Perez, Ritchie

Crowd: 52,311 (Man City 3,000)

(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to the game – Read HERE)

(Give us your fan ratings on all 14 Newcastle players HERE)

(Pep Guardiola “It’s not easy when Newcastle don’t want to play” – Read it HERE)

  • superalansuddick

    Perfect picture,

  • TheNutJob

    Tv money and the super, super rich are destroying football, Citee, PSG, Real, Barca, even Bayern & the Milan teams can`t match them these days, sad

    • justchampion

      That’s the crux of it. Maybe carragher should be asking why this has been allowed to happen. That’s the real issue.

      • StevieB

        You can relate the demise of the England national team back to the sky money also, the last “competitive” England teams I watched were euro 96 and France 98 where I could honestly say England were in with a shout of winning it, the players cared , they wanted to be there etc , after 2000 the sky money got ramped up and the England team has been on a steady decline ever since , you’ll see that next summer when our overpaid players flunk it again despite being world beaters from aug-may (sterling etc).
        Bottom line is the league is becoming more divided like la liga more n more each year due to the Sky money .

  • Queffly

    But he’s right? Who gives a toss if you lose by 1 or lose by 3. At least have a go. What a negative outlook on the game. Don’t deserve to be in the premier league if that’s all we can muster, “well they’ve spent more so let’s sit and cry and just lose 0-1”. I wonder if that’s what everyone said when we spent £15m on Shearer? Nope.

    • Graphsboy

      I give a toss if we lose by 1 or lose by 3. I’ve seen teams relegated by the narrowest of goal differences. Take a look at the bottom of the table today. There isn’t much between the bottom five or six teams. It’ll probably be that way until the last day of the season.

  • Leicester Mag

    He’s right in terms of the symptoms but misses the real reason, the hubris and greed introduced into the Premier League. A competition between Billionaires, even countries where for all but the richest the only aim is to keep a grip on the shirt tails of the gravy train

  • Damon Horner

    Burnley beat Liverpool with 19.4% possession. This isn’t new. At the end of the day they can pass around attacking teams or teams who press.

  • Jack Millington

    I never thought I would see the day when I saw Newcastle behave like scared, timid mice at SJP. I’ve been watching City since the 1940’s and witnessed some epic encounters down the years with Newcastle. Wonder what men like Jimmy Scoular would make of that display.

    • Mike

      just give up before the game 50k payin hard earned cash just want to watch a game of football not that tripe.

    • Leazes Ender

      Unfortunately this Premiership has become a battle between billionaires who are willing to buy their way to success…. it takes the shine of the trophy.

      Those clubs not competing are on damage limitation…..

    • hetonmag

      I never thought I would see the day when Manchester’s second team would be head and shoulders above everyone, this league is going to end up like the Scottish Premier where one team is dominating everything. And yes there’s been some epic encounters down the years but down the years there was a level playing field then unlike now.

    • Rich Lawson

      He’d have kicked them off the park,but in today’s PC football been sent off at some point.Men’s game,jumper’s for goal posts etc.How can they take the physicality out the game but still alow all the pushing and shoving in the box before/during a corner/free kick ?

  • Jack Millington

    … amd for those going on about goal diff. City hit the woodwork 3 times , had an off day by their standards and your keeper was your man of the match another day it could have been 6 or 7 and will be in a few weeks if City hit form which I expect.

    • Jimmy_toons

      One one team has amassed some of the world’s best players, and United have a championship promoted team and relegation candidate at best, then you won’t have a level playing field which is why teams like United will adopt such tactics. The divide is getting bigger and the money you have on the backs of migrant workers in the Middle East makes Man City untouchable in England, and getting there in Europe. The only real future will be European League, so the sooner the so called big 6 go, they can leave it to the rest of us to compete in the English premier league or whatever it will be called.

      • Dave Pattinson

        I totally agree. The rich ( or greedy!) top 6 should leave and form a Euro League with like-minded clubs, purely for tv and for the benefit of their foreign investors. No promotion or relegation. This would allow the rest of us to have a meaningful competition.. We don’t need them.

    • Leazes Ender

      I shudder to think what would have happened if we hadn’t ‘Parked the Bus’….. or was it a ‘train’? Whatever it was, it wasn’t football, but the abdication of football.

    • Alreet

      Do you have any stats of other teams who have tried the same and failed like west ham. Hudds. Brighton. Even manu and their riches.

      Bottom line is manc have the players and resources to destroy any team on the planet at the moment but for a scrappy goal the tactics worked.

      Start talking about woodwork and the like. If thats the case we should have buried west ham 5-0 in the first half and got a good 2-2 draw against arsenal.

      Its poor form when we get on the boss’ back when we are parking the bus against the best team in europe at the moment.

      We know we cant compete on a skill or football level so you have to preserve yourself.

      Look forward to a mega game against brighton now.

  • Whickhamrobbie

    It will only get worse the premier league is slowly turning into la liga .

    • Dave Pattinson

      Has thicko Carragher just realised what the majority of fans have known for yrs? Below Burnley, the rest of us simply exist to provide richer clubs like his own dear L’pool with cannon fodder. Carragher should get out more often. Where do Sky find such perceptive people like Neville,Souness and the like? How very, very sad that some people take them seriously.

  • GToon

    He is right. But is the premier league going to stop Man citeh spending another small countries gdp in the next transfer window? When will it end? Well it already has for most of us. It’s called losing interest. It normally starts at the beginning of the season when the football pundits excitedly tip their team for the championship. And then expect us to be excited cos one out of the ten of them didn’t tip man City. Wow! Years ago it used to be exciting and people genuinely didn’t know who would win the league. It’s only going to get worse before there is some kind of restructuring than involves a cap on spending. The financial fair play rules do nothing.

  • GToon

    To answer the question about Carragher I’m afraid I can’t understand a word he says. His voice is that high only small children and bats can pick it up. And he seems to have something in his mouth when he speaks to prevent him making any sense!
    That’s a bit harsh really. I’ve met him and he’s a really decent bloke. They obviously get paid to be slightly contentious and provoke a reaction and promote their show.

  • Jonathan

    Think above article puts it very well.
    Trouble is Sky have created this beast and Neville, Carragher and the others can see it going puff in their face unless creating a European super league (which BT own at the moment)

    • Michael Lisle

      Agreed.The worldwide appeal of the Premier League was built on exciting games with a unique English atmosphere. The domination of a few clubs [or this season one] and newer soulless stadiums means fewer great games. Sky and some of their pundits realise that the gravy train is drying up as games like last night are a big turn off for most neutrals. [I believe last season saw the first drop in TV viewing figures for Sky in UK] At least Carragher acknowledges this.Next step should be to create a more level playing field but dont hold your breath.

  • LEE

    on another day the wood wouldn’t save us, and imagine if the red had sent Murphy off. in many ways that would have been better for us, at least we could say we had a reason to sit so deep

  • Phil

    Jamie carraghers title on sky is football expert and columnist.
    So…. If the likes of carragher, Neville, souness etc etc are experts and so knowledgeable. Why do they choose to take to the sky studio instead of a dug out?
    If they have all this wisdom put it to good use. Step into management and help the premier league improve and be more competitive!
    Not going to happen. Gob shytes